A really good way to remember the benefits of listening is that we have ‘one mouth and two ears’ and therefore we should use these tools in the same proportion. We should listen twice as much than we speak!

One of my mentors, Steve is a really good listener. He once told me that he does a lot of listening because he learns a lot more when he listens than when he tries to tell people what he knows – trust me this fellow is bright and one can learn a great deal from him. He learns more and he discovers some interesting insights on people or the topic at hand. I have since learned from Steve these benefits and I apply them every time I meet someone.

It’s called Active listening and I’ve also discovered 3 rules of active listening:
1) When a person is speaking, I treat this person like he/she is the most important person in the world.
2) I think before I speak and I don’t interrupt the person.
3) When the person is done I ask a question pertaining to what she said indicating that I was listening and I try to move the discussion forward.

Let’s look a bit deeper at these 3 rules to see why they are so important:

Rule 1: Treat this person like he/she is the most important person in the world.
Earl Nightingale introduced me to this first rule:  ‘Treat this person like he/she is the most important person in the world’.


Ask yourself… Who is the most important person in the world?

You are, of course.

We all think in relative terms that we matter; we are important and therefore we are the most important person in the world. Therefore if you meet someone who is actively listening to you and this person was not distracted by what you are saying, you will probably think to yourself a bit later …Wow what a cool person. All this person really did was to focus on what was really important – you.

Rule 2: Think before you speak and don’t interrupt the person

This gets more difficult. We all want to add value to a discussion. Sometimes we want to show how smart we are. Sometimes we don’t agree. My suggestion: Think – don’t speak. Let the person finish. Don’t talk on top of the person and don’t try to finish their sentence – it’s annoying for this person. Your enthusiasm and zeal will probably do more damage than good especially if you just met this person through networking or this is someone that you really wanted to meet and get to know a bit more.

Rule 3: Ask a relevant question to what this person said indicating that you were listening and try to move the discussion forward.

This is fundamental. Active listening is exactly that – it shows the other person that you were actively listening and paying attention to what they said and your question confirmed that. By asking this question you are validating to this person that what they just said, has value. It’s a terrific testament that you cared about what they just said. Depending on the context of this meeting if this person is someone you really want to meet later and discuss business, thank them for their time and insight, present your business card and ask them if you could call them to meet later?

Sounds simple? Is it easy to apply?

That depends on you.

I have had the pleasure of meeting many people of many different cultures and nationalities and these 3 rules applied to all of them. It does not matter if the person was Congolese, British, Thai or from Haiti. We are all basically the same. We want to be heard and respected.

Try to apply these 3 steps starting today and try to notice if you follow these rules carefully. At times I find myself talking on top of the person. My passion for people takes the better part of me since I really wanted to meet this person. I then notice this mistake and I try to correct my approach the next time.

If you excel at these 3 rules, you can become someone like my friend Steve: Someone who has mastered his inter-personal skills, someone who is very interesting to meet and a great person to include in your network.

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